Pro cyclist Serena Gordon shares everything you need to know about biking in Bend


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Pro cyclist Serena Gordon shares everything you need to know about biking in Bend

Pro cyclist Serena Gordon races and rides bikes for Liv Racing Collect. She also works as Visit Bend’s Sustainability Manager, runs Special Blend Gravel Camp and spends as much time as possible outside with her husband, Ben, and their pup, Piper. 

This week I’ve asked her to talk about just one of those topics: BIKING! More specifically, what should everyone know before jumping aboard a bike in Bend. Here’s what she had to say…

Serena Gordon studio photo by Jeff Clark
Cyclist Serena Gordon is here with bike tips for cyclists of all skill levels. (Photo by Jeff Clark)

Riding bikes in Bend is fun—here’s how to do it right

There is nothing that makes me feel more free or more alive than riding my bike. And this privilege comes with responsibility. 

Whether in town, on the trails, or on the road, it is my responsibility to be kind, curious, and follow both the written and unwritten rules of cycling etiquette. 

I have been riding in and around Bend for more than 15 years, and as the number of people utilizing the bike lanes, roads and trails grow, and with increased vehicular traffic moving through town, it is more important than ever to understand your responsibilities as a cyclist.

Here are a few simple tips that will keep you safe, allow you to avoid conflict, and let you have more fun!

Pro Cyclist Serena Gordon cycling race image.

On the trail

Bend has an amazing network on mountain bike trails in Bend, accessible to varying ability levels.

Be aware that not all riders have the same skill and comfort level on a bike. If you are overtaking another rider, be sure to let them know you are coming up behind them, verbally announcing yourself with a “Hi, How’s it going?” or “Right behind you.” Be patient as they work to find a place to pull aside, and say “thank you” as you pass. 

If you are the rider being overtaken, pull aside in a safe manner as quickly as possible. The rider behind you is faster than you. Don’t block their path, don’t try to go faster, and don’t be a jerk. We have a lot of very fast riders in Bend. You are going to get passed. It’s ok, the passing rider is probably an Olympian. 

Be sure to pay attention to directional trails and DO NOT go the wrong way. 

Ben’s, Phil’s, Whoops, Funner, Tyler’s Traverse and North Fork are a few such trails. Going the wrong way on a one directional trail is VERY dangerous, for you and other riders. Just don’t do it. 

Uphill riders have right of way. 

Uphill riders always have right of way; however, riders in both directions should be “heads up” and courteous. Ride in control at all times and be prepared to “share the trail” even when you have right of way. (In other words, be nice!)

As the uphill rider, it is still your responsibility to pay attention. If you and another ride crash, it doesn’t really matter whose fault it was, if you are injured or your bike is damaged. 

When yielding to the uphill rider, do not continue to ride off the trail, into the sagebrush or vegetation. Either stop and step to the side, or slow down enough that the rider can pass you without issue. Riding off trail only widens the trail and damages the surrounding environment. Let’s all work together to keep single track single. 

Control your speed and keep your eyes up. 

If you are descending, be sure you are within your limits and know that there could be a hiker, runner, or cyclist coming up toward you. It is your responsibility to be able to control your stop and prevent a collision. Be mindful of what might be around that blind corner. 

Don’t ride the Deschutes River Trail or up South Fork on the weekends or busy summer days.  

No, these aren’t “rules” but believe me, you will be glad you listened to this advice.

The Deschutes River Trail, while open to mountain bikes, is an incredibly popular hiking trail. If you choose to ride on it during busy times, you will be stopping to give right of way every few minutes. While this is a great trail for riding, it is much more fun to ride one of the many other trails that are purpose built for bikes, rather than feet. 

South Fork is a two-way trail, however, it is one of the few “downhill” oriented trails in the network, with many blind corners. Riders going downhill are going fast and often have trouble yielding for uphill traffic. Riding up Swede Ridge and down South Fork is a much safer option, and way more fun. 

E-bikes are not allowed on Bend’s MTB Trails. 

There are places where e-bikes can be ridden in Central Oregon (Madras East Hills and a few trails in Oakridge, along with our vast network of gravel roads), but they are prohibited on all USFS and BLM managed hiking, horseback, and mountain bike trails. View this PDF for official information from the US Forest Service. You can also find some good information on this post from our friends at Pine Mountain Sports.

Pro Cyclist Serena Gordon biking through Downtown Bend, Oregon.
Use hand signals—making sure you are riding predictably is the key to your safety.

On the road and around town

When riding in town and on the road, making sure you are riding predictably is the key to your safety.

Use hand signals, obey traffic direction, make eye contact and remember, in a bike/car conflict, the bike is going to lose. Always. Be a defensive rider.

When you are on a bike, you are not a pedestrian. Don’t act like one. 

Sidewalks are for walking, not for riding. Please do not ride your bike on the sidewalk. Not only does it create user conflict with pedestrians, it can also cause dangerous situations with motorists at driveways, intersections and crosswalks. 

And speaking of crosswalks. Crosswalks are for walking. Do not ride your bike through a crosswalk, or expect cars to stop for you in a crosswalk if you are riding. Dismount and walk across the crosswalk, or better yet, don’t use a cross walk while you are on your bike. Remember, you are not a pedestrian if you are on your bike. 

Get comfortable taking the lane, especially when entering a roundabout. As the bike lane ends, signal that you will be moving left, check that it is safe, and move into the center of the lane as you enter. Move through the roundabout the way a car would move through, signaling your exit, and reentering the bike lane as you have exited. 

Wear a helmet.

No excuses, even when you are just taking the AirBnB cruiser bike around the corner to the coffee shop.  I don’t care if it is going to mess up your hair. You can always fix your hair, you can’t fix your brain. Don’t have a helmet? Let me know, we’ll get you one. (I am serious).  

A note about eBikes in town: 

If you are using an eBike around town, remember that you need to follow the same rules as you would on any other bicycle. Ride in the bike lane, not on the sidewalk; use hand signals and ride predictably and ride in the same direction as vehicular traffic.

Pro Cyclist Serena Gordon biking through Downtown Bend, Oregon.

A word to motorists.

As a cyclist, I am hyper vigilant about being predictable and cautious around vehicles. I do not want to get hit by a car.  As a motorist, it is also our responsibility to be predictable. If you see a cyclist at a 4-way stop, treat them as a car, proceeding through the intersection when it is your turn, not waving the cycling through, out of turn “to be nice.” In a roundabout, please do not stop in the middle to let a cyclist enter. The cyclist is not expecting this, and neither is the vehicle behind you. Treat a cyclist in a roundabout the same way you would a car. Do not stop for them, and do not try to pass them. Bikes travel through roundabouts faster than cars anyway.  

Bend is a great place to ride bikes, and by practicing good cycling etiquette, it can be even better, for everyone! Keep your eyes up, your helmets on and your smiles big.

Mountain Bike trail map and conditions information can be found at Bend Trails.

Here are a few handy links to learn more about cycling in and around Bend: